Thursday, November 5, 2015

This teacher’s letter is about not quitting and "standing up for public education"





“…Yes, a lot of people have worked hard to turn my job into something I barely recognize, and yes, I am on the butt end of a whole lot of terrible education policy, and yes, I am regularly instructed to commit educational malpractice in my classroom. But here's the thing-- you don't pay me nearly enough for me to do my job badly, on purpose.

“I'm not going to make [my students] miserable on purpose. I'm not going to waste valuable education time on purpose. I'm not going to teach them that reading is a miserable activity with no purpose other than to prepare for testing. I'm not going to tell them that these big stupid tests, or any other tests, or grades, even, are an important measure of how ‘good’ they are or how much right they have to feel proud or happy or justified in taking up space on this planet. I'm not going to tell them any of that.

“Most of these new education reform policies are wrong. They're bad pedagogy, bad instruction, bad for students, bad for education, and we all know it. I am not going to spend another day in my room pretending that I don't know it… And the work I am committed to is the education of young students, the work of having them become their best selves, of finding their best way to be in the world as they choose to be. I am not committed to a year of narrow test prep and a tiny, cramped definition of success. I am not committed to a view of compliance as the highest human virtue. I am not committed to the work of trying to force them into some box that the corporate world has built for them. 

“My first allegiance, my first obligation is to my students-- not the board, not state education bureaucrats, not policy makers, not test manufacturers, not to people who think they need to know what's going on in the school but can't be bothered to get their butts here to use their own five senses to find out. I have no obligation to those who want to profit from my work, and I have no obligation to people who want to use my classroom to further their own political or financial agenda.

“So I will stay here, and I will do what I consider-- in my professional opinion-- to do what is best for my students and my community. When I am told to implement a bad policy, I will circumvent it by any means at my disposal. I will disregard directives to commit malpractice. I will question, I will challenge, and I will push back. I will speak at every board meeting. I will talk to every parent...

“Quitting? Hell no. If you want me out of here, you will have to fire my ass, and I will make it just as public and loud as I can, so that you have to step out in front of the community and explain why you're doing it. Hell, we may all end up in court, going on the record about the crap you tried to force me to do to these children…”


For the entire letter entitled A Not Quitting Letter by Peter Greene, Click here.


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